No, I’m not talking about prostitution. Pay to play is the concept where a fee is levied in order to present information or entertainment to an audience that is not always aware that a fee is required to the entity creating the information or performing the entertainment.
Wikipedia has a good definition:
Pay to play, sometimes pay for play, is a phrase used for a variety of situations in which money is exchanged for services or the privilege to engage (play) in certain activities. The common denominator of all forms of pay to play is that one must pay to “get in the game,” with the sports analogy frequently arising
There are many examples of this concept in action. It’s likely better known for those folks aware of the live music scene. The Wikipedia page provides examples in other realms such as politics, stand-up comedy, radio, even corporate financing. Part of me understands and appreciates the need for an entry fee in order for a musician or stand up comedian to help the venue (or promoter) to make money. A huge part of the performing arts is a capitalistic endeavor motivated by profit.
Pay to play is moving into other areas. Last year, I was in communication with YourTango.com, an online source for dating and relationship advice. That website gets a lot of attention and plenty of page views. Dating advice folks brag that their content has been featured on YourTango. There is a section of that website with the name “YourTango Experts“. That was where my own content was to be published… for $48 a month at the time. Ah, pay to play. I declined.
Again, I completely understand charging folks like me for an online presence that gathers plenty o’ eyeballs. Besides, YourTango needs content and the profit margins always need to be improved. By charging content creators, it’s a win-win situation. YourTango gets content and some lucre as a bonus. The expert gets valuable exposure to help pitch a book or some type of coaching services.
How long until Huffington Post charges content creators? With so many website desperate for eyeballs, clicks, and the subsequent advertising revenue, it’s likely already happening, especially since so many content creators are pushing a book or a paid service. The trend was established years ago in the print publication industry. If an advertiser was willing to buy up enough ad space, the publication agreed to write a feature story about that business. Making things even more efficient, the advertiser sometimes actually WROTE that feature story. This still happens in local publications.
I have just learned about the Great Love Debate. It’s a series of shows and performances where the there is a fun and lively discussion about attraction and dating in a live audience format. I’ve watched quite a few of the available videos. In general, the format works. A friend recently attended one of these events in Austin, Texas and generally had good things to say.
The format of the Great Love Debate involves a group of attraction, dating, and relationship experts up on stage to speak more about audience questions and talk more about the subject matter. The videos show some lively talk and a generally engaged audience. With that in mind, I thought to myself that I could be one of those experts up on stage. I sent an email to the show’s organizers. The response I received was not unsurprised at the response. Given my under-the-radar status as a dating blogger, I was expected to pay a fee to be up on stage. Fair enough. Outside of the ‘sphere, I’m not particularly well-known.
As a reality check, I contacted a local dating coach to see if he had participated in the same show. He did last year here in Miami, but was not charged a fee given that his local public reputation is better than mine. This local dating coach, Dan Silverman, does better with his matchmaking services. A note for guys here in South Florida, his clients are heterosexual men and he has MANY more women available than he has male clients. I might have him write a guest post or do an interview with him so he can discuss what he’s learned from his matchmaker services for men.
There is a glaring problem with the pay to play business model. There are seriously reduced incentives to deny fees to the unqualified. Consider the the pay to play concept at a comedy club. The promoter or club owner accepts fees from performers who are not at all funny. The audience still pays for an entry ticket and drinks but is thoroughly not amused by the terrible act(s) up on stage. No one wins but the promoter or club owner. But the win is short-lived because the club’s reputation will quickly be ruined.
This applies to any business model that charges an audience and also charges the performers. It’s fraught with difficulty because of financial incentives. The takeaway for guys is to be very circumspect about what advice they are reading on the ‘Net. If it’s pay to play, then the advice should be heavily discounted.
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